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  • Changing the culture

    first_imgChanging the cultureOn 1 Oct 2003 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article CaraDavani describes the challenges she faces as head of HR for the London Boroughof Tower Hamlets. Roisin Woolnough reportsWhenCara Davani took on the job of head of HR at the London Borough of TowerHamlets earlier this year, people warned her it would be tough. “I had anumber of people say to me that this was the worst HR job at this level,”she says. “It’s an incredibly deprived area, there are 10,000 staff andthere hadn’t been anyone occupying my job in a permanent capacity for two and ahalf years. Although there had been interim consultants doing this role andthere was a basis for an HR strategy, that absence of someone permanent createdreal leadership problems with HR and problems in terms of consistency.”Thefirst thing Davani needed to do was establish where the council was at andwhere it was going. “A key thing I wanted was to have a good understandingof the direction the organisation was going in so that I could then work outhow to shape HR,” says Davani.TowerHamlets council has worked hard to improve its services and image over the pastfew years and Davani says those efforts are paying off. “We have moreregeneration and development in this borough than in the rest of London puttogether.” While Davani is pleased about all the regeneration initiatives,they have also made her job harder because HR needs to provide the frameworkwithin which to achieve the necessary changes. “The council has a greatprogramme for accelerating improvement, but HR is not in that good a positionyet,” explains Davani. “We are trying to support the organisation andtrends of moving upward and at the same time, getting ourselves in HR to anacceptable standard.”Thearea is made up of a very diverse mix of communities – more than 70 per cent ofunder 16s belong to minority ethnic groups and 93 different languages arespoken in the borough. The council recently won a Government award forcommunity cohesion and for improving relations between the differentcommunities. One of two London boroughs to achieve Beacon status, Tower Hamletswas praised for tackling the fragmentation of its various communities and fortransforming its social services – now one of the country’s top 20 improvingservices.Thecouncil also did well in the Government’s new performance league tables forlocal authorities in England as well, achieving the second highest rating(good) and the Audit Commission praised the extent to which the council hasimproved its services. The education services were singled out as being thefastest improving in the country – at three times the national average rate ofimprovement.   HRwas also singled out in the Comprehensive Performance Assessment, but as anarea that needed improvement. “While we as a council came out well interms of service provision, what came out was that one of the weaknesses hasbeen HR,” says Davani. She thinks this assessment process has actuallymade it easier for her to push through reform and explain why change is needed.Toimplement any changes, Davani knew she needed senior management support so sheorganised an away day for 25 of her top managers. She presented what she feltwas the framework for the way to move forward, talking about which structureswere right and which were wrong. “I got huge buy in then,” she says. Davanihas encountered a fair bit of resistance to her change programme, but she saysthat this initial senior level buy-in was crucial to ensuring change couldhappen. “Theclear message I was giving is that we’ve got to change,” she says.”Staying as we were was not an option as we were failing to deliver whatwe needed to deliver.” Had they not changed, Davani thinks the HR service wouldhave been downgraded or outsourced altogether. “The activities of the HRfunction would have shrunk and it would have become a very operational serviceonly.”Fortunately,Davani likes a challenge and has got used to overcoming resistance in previousjobs.”Ina lot of my roles I’ve been involved in reviewing and creating HR units fromscratch or in places where there hasn’t been much respect for them. I enjoythat.”Havingreviewed the provision of services in Tower Hamlets council, Davani then embarkedupon a fundamental restructuring of HR across the organisation. She now has ahead of HR strategy, a head of training and development, a head of payroll andpensions and head of HR operations, all of whom report to her. Whilemost other London boroughs have been busy decentralising their HR activity,Davani has actually centralised part of hers. However, she has left educationand social services decentralised for now because she considers them to beeffectively run units.Theother departments have their own head of HR, but they ultimately report to her.Some departments have been merged, such as payroll and pensions, because ofduplication. “I did it purely because we wantconsistency and to raise standards,” she explains. “I am a strongadvocate of centralising HR activity, enhancing efficiency and making surethere is not duplication of efforts. I would like to demonstrate that we cansuccessfully provide an improved service from the centre.”Inthe past, Davani says there had been a tendency for the different departmentsto act autonomously and while that may have worked on a local level, it alsoimpacted on the organisation as a whole. ProfileraisingDavanithinks the whole process of reviewing the council’s services and establishingthe role HR has to play within that has actually raised the profile of HR.”Organisations need to understand the key contribution that HR can makewithin their organisation, particularly in terms of moving change forward andthe strategic agenda. That had not been fully understood in this organisationbut, positively for me, there is a new chief executive who is incrediblycommitted to HR.”Thereview process highlighted recruitment as a real problem area and one ofDavani’s key aims now is to improve the council’s ability to attract and retainstaff. She has joined forces with other public sector organisations in theborough – the police, Jobcentre plus, NHS, education authority, fire serviceand housing association – to devise strategies to improve recruitment andretention and make the public sector a more popular career option for localpeople. She thinks there is a lot of work to be done overcoming the imageproblem that the public sector suffers right across the UK. These stereotypicalviews are often even more pronounced in deprived areas.  “We are tackling the public perceptionof working in public sector organisations,” she says. “Thetraditional view is of it being a place where people can take it easy, don’thave to work too hard and are there for life. And that it’s bureaucratic andnot a desirable place for an up and coming ambitious young person to work. Thatcouldn’t be further from the truth. In particular, there are some black andethnic minority people who will avoid certain professions, so we are trying toovercome those barriers.”Originally,the various bodies came together for what was supposed to be a one-off seminar,but the initiative proved so successful, that it has become a more long-termpartnership. A series of roadshows are planned from mid-October to the end ofDecember, promoting the public sector as employers, particularly to youngpeople. There will be different events, such as a session in a mosque and aninitiative to attract more disabled people, and the Council has created someglossy brochures, detailing the different careers possible in the publicsector. “We have some case studies to focus on particular careers in thepublic sector,” explains Davani. “Say someone wants to become asocial worker, we can show them a case study. We want to create a differentimage and these will be feel good stories.”Thecouncil has secured around £40,000 in Government funding through aNeighbourhood Renewal Bid to finance the project, although some of that isearmarked for another initiative – developing a joint management and leadershipprogramme with the local primary care trust, specifically aimed at black andethnic minority groups.Housingis another area that needs attention. Davani says they are giving residents thechance to decide who looks after their housing service. “It’s a majorstrategic review of the housing service,” she says. “And it couldhave huge staffing implications for us in terms of TUPE.”GainingcredibilityDavanithinks legislation is one of the big bugbears of HR. “The sheer volume ofit is affecting my job,” she says. She worries about the potential for more employment tribunals, but rightnow, she is feeling pretty pleased with the changes she has made and the effectthey have had. “I have been keen to raise the profile of the HR serviceand it already has more credibility than it did at the beginning of the year.That’s a real personal achievement.”Butthen, Davani says, she is used to having to prove herself and gainingcredibility through her achievements.Havingrecently turned 30, she has twice been recruited by employers sceptical abouther age. “The people wanted to see me and were interested in what I had tosay, but they thought I was too young to do a director’s job,” she says.”Both those people recruited me and I feel very pleased that I’ve managedto gain the credibility I’ve gained in terms of employers I’ve had at the ageI’m at. People think I’m young to be doing this job, but I like a challenge”AlthoughDavani regularly attends board meetings at the council, she is not actually amember of the board. For her next job, she intends to be a boardroom player andnot necessarily in the public sector. “I’m not sure the private sectorwould have me now because I’ve been in the public sector so long, but I reallybelieve in the corporate vision. Primarily though, I want to be on the board ofa large organisation. Or taking it one step further, I would be interested inlooking at more corporate roles, incorporating HR. An assistant chief executive,say.” Fornow though, she is enjoying the experience of working in a London borough andbelieves passionately in the public sector ideals – if only people would stopcomplaining. “We need to lose this culture of people complaining abouttheir organisation,” she says.TowerHamlets Factfile–There are 17 wards in Tower Hamlets–The population is around 185,000 and is predicted to increase to more than203,000 by 2006–Tower Hamlets has the second highest proportion of under-16s in London at justunder 30 per cent. More than 70 per cent of these belong to ethnic minoritygroups–A little over 25 per cent of the Tower Hamlets population is Bangladeshi, onein 12 is black, plus there are sizeable Chinese and Vietnamese communities–Unemployment stands at around 12 per cent, compared to 3.6 per cent for the UKas a whole and 5.6 per cent for LondonTowerHamlets HR’s key roleHRneeds to help the council achieve the following aims:–Build local vision and direction–Enable community involvement–Secure improvements in services and standards–Ensure equality, access and inclusion–Manage conflict and competing demands–Make the best use of resources–Account for performance and service qualityCurriculumVitae Cara Davani2003  London Borough of Tower Hamlets service headof HR2000– 2002  Director of HR, Suffolk College1998-2000  Personnel Manager, Tendring District Council1996-1998  Personnel Officer, Tendring District Council1991-1996  Various personnel officer roles, SuffolkCounty Council social services Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

  • Finding a Home Outside the Bridge

    first_imgAfter failing to pin a regular shirt at Stamford Bridge, Nigerian international, Ola Aina was last season loaned to Championship side, Hull City. With another loan spell to Torino, the defender seems to have finally found a home outside of the Bridge with regular playing time with his new Serie A clubOla Aina was one of the key performers for his club as he was on for full 90 minutes in Torino’s 0-0 away draw against AC Milan in their Serie A clash at the Giuseppe Meaza Stadium, Milan on Sunday and thanked the club’s fans for their unflinching support.“Another point for the team. Thank you to our fans for bringing the energy as usual,” Aina tweeted on his Twitter handle.Aina, who is on loan at Torino from English Premier League club, Chelsea, has made 13 Serie A league appearances for the Turin – based club this season but is yet to find the back of the net. The Torino defender is however delighted with his new environment and the opportunity to hone his skills in Italy after he joined Walter Mazzarri’s men temporarily for the 2018-19 campaign after extending his contract with Chelsea to 2021 last month.After spending the majority of his career in England which included a season-long spell with Hull City last term, the 21-year-old highlighted differences between the two countries.“I really like Turin. It’s not as big as London, but it’s a bit more relaxed and relaxing, a bit like me. In England, we train a lot in the morning, here it’s more the afternoon. I’m getting used to it though. Everyone is adapting to me, and obviously vice-versa. My teammates have made me feel good from the beginning, I thank them because it made it much easier for me to settle in,” Aina was quoted as saying by Football Italia.“Serie A is very different from the Premier League, the football in England is more physical and fast.It’s slower here and there’s more time to think, but you need a very different, more intense, attention to tactics.That’s good for me because that’s exactly what I need to improve.“I chose Torino because of the coach Walter Mazzarri, I talked to him and I got the feeling he wanted me and wanted to help me grow. I also felt he wanted me to work for him, that I could be important for his cause.Then, of course, Torino have a great history and the Italian league is one of the best, so I couldn’t say no.”The 21-year-old believes he has started brightly this season and looks to continue to make a good impression on the first team.He said: “I have started very well this season, thanks also to my teammates and to the coach, when there are challenges I always face them openly because I believe in my potential.”He went on to praise Mazzari’s tactics and team set up, emphasising how he likes to be given the freedom to attack as well as defend.Aina joined Torino on loan from Chelsea and has suddenly become a vital part of the team.Aina while speaking in an interview with Forza Italian Football said he has set a target to learn the language by December.“I’ve been enjoying it so far. I’m enjoying training and the games, and all the challenges as there are some top sides here. I’m settling in just fine. My Italian was good but it’s dipped a little. I’m back on the lessons though and have given myself the target of Christmas to have a full conversation.”“The difference is a lot,” Ola Aina said. “The level is a lot higher, the concentration and tactical side of things are a lot higher than the Championship. For me, that is what is key for me this season. Right now, the squad are just focusing on each other, and to take each match as it comes. We want to play good football and get as many points as possible and win games. So if we can focus on this, then who knows.”Normally placed on the right side, Aina has been operating on the left, though he admitted it makes no difference where he plays.“Both right and left are the same,” Aina continued, “the only difference is you have to use your other foot. Simple really.”He was born in the London and was raised by two Nigerian parents, he was also one step away from participating in the last World Cup in Russia: he was in fact included in the preliminary list, but was not chosen in the final 23.A few years ago, when Josè Mourinho was still the manager of the Blues, he spoke highly of the player and his efforts. Aina won a number of titles with the youth team at Chelsea which forced the Special One to say “He has great potential and I believe that he will represent the future of the club.”After Mourinho left, Aina was mentored by Conte and with the Italian Aina played in the 3-4-3 and on 3-5-2 systems and knowing Mazzarri, a young player that knows how to play in a system with three defenders is ideal.Aina said, “I only arrived in August, but I immediately got along well with my new teammates, I tied up with Meite, Ferigra, Edera, but also with many others.“I feel at home and for this I thank them. I started this season very well thanks to my teammates and to the coach. When there are challenges I always face them openly because I believe a lot in my potential.“Chelsea allowed me to be here because they know that this is an excellent championship and an opportunity to improve even tactically, I chose Torino because I talked to the coach and he immediately made me feel important for this team, and then because this club has an important history.”Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegramlast_img read more

  • Wellington Sears moving to Tibbs Furniture Store building on S. Washington (updated)

    first_imgby Tracy McCue, Sumner Newscow — Wellington Sears Store is on the move. Sears will be moving from the Warner Strip Mall on U.S. 160 just south of Penny’s Diner to the former Tibbs Furniture Store location at 214 South Washington.The new location will be the former building for Tibbs Furniture Store on 214 S. Washington.“We are hoping for a location that is a better fit for our store,”  said Melinda Haggard, of Pratt, who owns the Wellington Sears.The target date to open at its new location is Nov. 17.Wellington Sears will be using 7,000 square feet of the building – 5,000 of it being for showroom. Tibbs Furniture Store closed in 2012. The building was recently sold at auction to Shaun Weaver, Farm Bureau Financial Services and is currently getting renovated for the national chain outlet that sells a variety of home appliances.“I thought when I was purchasing the building, the size would be attractive for a business such as Sears,” Weaver said on why he bought the building. “But no I had no idea Sears wanted to move when I made the purchase. It was strictly speculative.” Weaver said the building is getting a new tile floor and other upgrades before opening. The move comes as welcome news to those in the Wellington downtown area, who have been working to bring more retail to the business district. Haggard said the current Warner location was not ideal for visibility for Sears. Plus the owners of the property at U.S. 160 are expected to make significant changes to the lot in the very near future. With the Sears exit, the strip mall will be completely abandoned. Close Forgot password? Please put in your email: Send me my password! Close message Login This blog post All blog posts Subscribe to this blog post’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Subscribe to this blog’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Follow the discussion Comments (16) Logging you in… Close Login to IntenseDebate Or create an account Username or Email: Password: Forgot login? Cancel Login Close WordPress.com Username or Email: Password: Lost your password? Cancel Login Dashboard | Edit profile | Logout Logged in as Admin Options Disable comments for this page Save Settings Sort by: Date Rating Last Activity Loading comments… You are about to flag this comment as being inappropriate. Please explain why you are flagging this comment in the text box below and submit your report. The blog admin will be notified. Thank you for your input. +6 Vote up Vote down ronco · 355 weeks ago How about a story on the significant changes planned in the near future for the strip mall. Other than Pennys, this property is an eyesore that needs a realistic business plan. Would be a good location for that Motel that’s been coming soon for years. Good move by Sears. Report Reply 0 replies · active 355 weeks ago +4 Vote up Vote down Scooter · 355 weeks ago Please tell me you are serious about there being a plan for the strip mall. Perhaps you could throw us a bone and give us a little hint. Report Reply 0 replies · active 355 weeks ago -12 Vote up Vote down mr ed · 355 weeks ago lets see move from a location that had thousands of cars pass by a day to a location where just a few hundred may pass by. If they aint busy at the east location things are really going to slow down when the relocate uptown. Not sure this makes sense Report Reply 6 replies · active 354 weeks ago +11 Vote up Vote down Brian · 355 weeks ago I wish Sears the best. Breathe more live into downtown that is looking a lot more alive! Go down town shop and eat people. You know what they say…..use it or loose it! Report Reply 0 replies · active 355 weeks ago +13 Vote up Vote down guest · 355 weeks ago Best wishes and thank you to SEARS for sticking with Wellington. Report Reply 0 replies · active 355 weeks ago +1 Vote up Vote down Jake W. · 355 weeks ago It’s great to see the Sears business moving and also our downtown block improving. The sad part is the strip mall. I have a soft spot for the old movie theatre and yes, its an eyesore but its full of fond memories. Perhaps before they tear it down, there can be a look around date. Report Reply 0 replies · active 355 weeks ago +4 Vote up Vote down Tom Countryman · 354 weeks ago Great move on Sears’ part. It should be a great enhancement to Wellington’s downtown. As far as the strip mall is concerned, I hope the improvement plans include repaving the lot. That is the reason we stopped going there way back when Dollar General was still there – fear of ruining the car’s suspension. Report Reply 0 replies · active 354 weeks ago +3 Vote up Vote down Ted Logan · 354 weeks ago I wonder if they will keep the same knowledgeable helpful employees. Report Reply 1 reply · active 354 weeks ago +2 Vote up Vote down South Haven Hick · 354 weeks ago The strip mall is in a steel building that is old and dated, which would take more expense than it would be worth to restore and rehabilitate. No effort has been made to keep the back side in as good shape as the front, and the front does not look that great as is. When the building was constructed, there was not adequate planning in providing for drainage off the lot on the east end, which in the winter becomes a parking or slip and fall hazard. Water is falling out of the gutter system where it should not when it rains. Due to the current condition of the building and property, I think no one who would choose to locate there would meet with success. Wellington would benefit from this structure being removed totally and the property redeveloped with a new and different strip mall layout or free-standing buildings planned to be easier to remodel if owners change and occupied by businesses for which demand will always be strong with local residents and out of town travelers. Report Reply 0 replies · active 354 weeks ago Post a new comment Enter text right here! Comment as a Guest, or login: Login to IntenseDebate Login to WordPress.com Login to Twitter Go back Tweet this comment Connected as (Logout) Email (optional) Not displayed publicly. Name Email Website (optional) Displayed next to your comments. Not displayed publicly. If you have a website, link to it here. Posting anonymously. Tweet this comment Submit Comment Subscribe to None Replies All new comments Comments by IntenseDebate Enter text right here! Reply as a Guest, or login: Login to IntenseDebate Login to WordPress.com Login to Twitter Go back Tweet this comment Connected as (Logout) Email (optional) Not displayed publicly. Name Email Website (optional) Displayed next to your comments. Not displayed publicly. If you have a website, link to it here. Posting anonymously. Tweet this comment Cancel Submit Comment Subscribe to None Replies All new commentslast_img read more

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